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July 7, 2022

Still more discussion of the BOP's failings with FIRST STEP Act

At Forbes, Walter Pavlo has this new piece under the headline "Bureau Of Prisons Holding Inmates For Longer Than Law Allows." The piece provides another account of the difficulties the BOP is having in giving persons in federal prison the credits set forth in the FIRST STEP Act. Here is an excerpt:

The FSA, signed into law by President Donald Trump in December 2018, allows many prisoners to earn additional time off of their sentence, up to a year, and also earn extensive time in pre-release custody (halfway house and home confinement). Those credits, up to 15 days for every 30 days of holding a job and participating in programs/education, can be significant. It means the difference between rejoining one’s family a year or more earlier than before the FSA. However, there are reports from around the country that the BOP is not providing accurate information to prisoners about their FSA credits and some are staying in prison longer than necessary....

A declaration by BOP’s Susan Giddings in a federal civil case (Northern District of Alabama, 1:22-cv-00294, Stewart v Warden) provides a glimpse of the challenges the BOP faces in trying to implement FSA. Giddings is the Chief of the Unit Management Section of the Correctional Programs Branch at the BOP’s Central Office in Washington DC. In addition to her role overseeing Correctional Systems, she has been involved in the development and implementation of the BOP’s FSA procedures. As part of Giddings’ declaration for the Petitioner, inmate Robert Stewart, she noted that “... for reasons that are not apparent to me, Petitioner’s FSA credits were in fact incorrectly calculated.” If one person’s is wrong, many others are as well. One of the reasons might be that the BOP is currently calculating these FSAs manually....

Thousands of inmates are in the position to be freed under FSA but many will be held longer than necessary as the BOP tries to get its computer system up to speed. As one family told me about waiting for the BOP’s new sentence calculator, “it can’t come soon enough.”

Some prior related posts:

July 7, 2022 at 10:27 AM | Permalink


Prof., I think this is really important but also interesting.

Go look at docket entry 11-1. It is a declaration from a BOP employee. She says "The BOP's position is that Petitioner’s sentence computation and release date are correct, and have been computed in accordance with the above cited federal statutes and BOP Program Statement 5160.05."

Then at docket entry 11-14, the BOP supervisor says "we screwed up" on the computation. This is sanctionable conduct in my book, but the type of thing that the BOP does in litigation all the time.

Posted by: Zachary Newland | Jul 8, 2022 2:36:08 PM

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